Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

European Carmakers Get Into the Bicycle Business

Hoping to cash in on the urban cycling trend, European automakers have started branching out into the world of human-powered transportation, according to the London Evening Standard. BMW, Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Cooper have all introduced brand-specific bicycles.

Bikes are still a small portion of automakers' business and may, at least initially, be aimed more at branding than any sort of substitution for their core product. Still, Joel Batterman at Network blog Transport Michigan wonders what the carmakers' foray into bicycling says about our evolution as a culture. And could the Big Three be far behind?

false

There's considerable symbolic significance in this phenomenon. "De-motorization" is already a well-documented phenomenon among Japanese youth, who feel that "having a car is so 20th century." It's something else entirely to see it happening among automakers themselves.

U.S. automakers have occasionally branded some bikes. Instead of urban commuter bikes, however, they've mostly been mountain bikes designed in keeping with their cars' off-road image. The Hummer LX is one example. However, it's doubtful anyone ever conceived the LX as "part of a green city solution," as Peugeot terms its two-wheelers, since the Hummer brand tended to be more associated with running over the natural world than protecting it.

As Detroit planning consultant Toni Griffin has suggested, it may be time for Detroit to start thinking in terms of "transportation innovation," not just automobile innovation, especially as the world continues to change. Ford dabbled in mass transit after the energy crises of the '70s, and no clear lines divided the field's pioneers a century ago.

Batterman points out that the auto industry has historical ties to cycling and public transit. Henry Ford was a bike commuter who started out in the streetcar business. And Detroit tire manufacturing also has its origin in the cycling industry. An evolution toward manufacturing other modes of transport, could, in a way, bring the industry back to its roots.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Burning the Midnight Oil says that even if some projects are scrapped, expanded passenger rail is here to stay in the U.S. Greater Greater Washington ponders what it would take eliminate death and serious injury on our roadways. And The Transport Politic weighs in on the idea of extending a subway line to New Jersey instead of builing the ARC tunnel.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Survey: Most Drivers Want Their Cars To Alert Them When They Hit Deadly Speeds

Turns out, not everyone thinks driving 100 miles an hour anywhere they wish is an inalienable American freedom.

June 12, 2024

Why Traffic Engineers Learn Almost Nothing About Traffic Safety In School

Shocking as it may seem, civil engineering programs do not need to offer any transportation-specific courses. Here's why that's bad news.

June 12, 2024

Calif. Cities Block Off Streets for Rich Neighborhoods, Not for Bike/Walk Safety

Cities know street closures work to divert and calm car traffic, they shouldn't be shy about using diverters/closures for prioritizing the safety and convenience of people getting around on foot and on bike.

June 11, 2024

‘Talking Headways’ Special: Let’s Understand This Congestion Pricing Debacle

Why did New York Gov. Kathy Hochul kill the first-in-the-nation toll? We talk to a New York-based transit expert to see what is going on?

June 11, 2024
See all posts